Let us say you’re writing a post-postapocalyptic gothic horror novel set in a frozen barony. It is approximately -40°C outside, and the cold has already killed your car battery. Dawn comes late and dusk early; at high noon, the sun struggles unseen behind the jagged peaks. You have not heard the sound of your own voice for about a week. You are the happiest you have been for a long time.
Every day the dog wakes you by sliding out from under the covers and whining like an ungreased hinge. The windows are frosted over, and it’s still dark; you’re not sure how late you’ve slept, and mercifully, you don’t really care. You pull on your long johns and take the dog out to the meadow by the river, where you find yourselves stuck between two halves of an elk herd. They are slow-moving but impossibly huge, lumbering like sinister afterthoughts in the needly underbrush. You slip behind a safe palisade of tree trunks and stop in the clearing where you had once found a large spiral pattern of stones—it is buried under a few feet of snow, but you have no doubt it’s still there. You’re unsure of its origin, but like the elk, you know better than to disturb it.